Love Reflects on Ryder Cup


Davis Love III isn't the type to wallow in self-pity, which could have been the response of many mere mortals. After all, Love, the captain of the 2012 U.S. Ryder Cup team and charged with bringing the Cup back to America, had his squad in prime position heading into Sunday's singles matches only to see them lose in astounding fashion.

Despite the support from a full-throated and massive gallery at Medinah Country Club near Chicago, the Americans blew the 10-6 lead they'd amassed over the previous two days as the Euros totaled 8 points in singles en route to a 14-to-13 victory and retain the Cup they won two years ago at Celtic Manor in Wales.

Instead of retreating to his home in Sea Island, Ga., Love is back in the public eye as a competitor in this week's Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. The $4.5 million PGA Tour event starts Thursday at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas.

Love is paired in the first round with Kevin Na and Jason Day. On Tuesday, he met with reporters and discussed what transpired last weekend. As usual, the 48-year-old answered the tough questions candidly and from the heart. Here's what Love had to say.

MODERATOR: You mentioned on the way over that life really has not stopped. You talked about how busy of a day it was yesterday. Maybe just open up with couple of comments on what yesterday was like. Obviously here you are at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open where you were a champion in 1993, I believe. I know you're glad to be back here as well.

DAVIS LOVE III: Right. I told Tiger all things were back to normal. Monday middle of the day my wife and I walked to McDonald's which she loves. I said, I am going to Vegas where I should've stopped that Tiger Woods train in a playoff. He said, Well, you had a Persimmon driver. You had no chance. So we're back to moving on. I'm happy to be here. I wanted to get back to playing golf, no matter what happened Sunday. I had committed that I needed to get back to my own game and it would be good for me either way.

You know, Sunday was not good; Monday was I think hard for a lot of our players. We packed up and gradually everybody was leaving. It was emotional saying good bye to most of the guys. It was a little surreal. Phil and Amy sat with (indiscernible) and I at the elevator. They were the last ones to leave the ninth floor, and we sat there for a half an hour and I finally realized they just didn't want to leave. They had a big airplane and were going home to see their kids, but didn't want to leave and it to be over. I think that's how most of us felt. It was hard not to get up Monday morning and put your team clothes on and go play again.

I think we're just sad it's over. Obviously we're stunned by the loss, but I think the team really game came together. You saw that Sunday afternoon the way they handled it, and I saw it all day Monday. I just got a text from Dufner and Webb Simpson. They're still pulling together. I think that's the impressive thing.

Q. Moving forward now and putting the Ryder Cup behind you getting back to being a Tour player, what's going to be the key to making that transition to give yourself a chance to play up to your best this week?

DAVIS LOVE III: First thing is walk out there and hit some balls. (Laughter.) I had this fantasy at Wales when I was helping Corey that I was going to get to practice some. I was playing the McGladrey Classic the next week, the first one, and we were hosting it. The week before I was in Wales and I hit balls maybe twice. I did practice some before I went to Chicago, and then Sunday I actually get out on the golf course and played some and hit some balls.

One day Butch Harmon was watching Dustin and Dustin had some extra drivers, so I got out there and said, This is my chance. I started warming up, and Butch was starting to give me a couple tips. I had hit four or five and the phone rang and the radio went off in my hear area and that was that. I never hit another ball from Wednesday on. But that wasn't my job. I thought it would be fun to go out there and hit balls with the guys, but it turns out that even though Wales with Corey was bigger and I learned a lot, the biggest thing I told Lisa Pavin last night is it's twice as big over here and twice as much work to do. It was an incredible busy week. It's going to be hard to go back to normal, but going to fun to go out there and get my own pail of balls and start hitting them.

Q. (Question regarding being inactive for a long period.)

DAVIS LOVE III: I told Doug, I packed up maybe 20 boxes of stuff out of my hotel rooms last night and went down and started helping the ladies in the office pack up their boxes. I just didn't want it to end. I enjoy the behind the scenes, the support part of it and getting things done and making it nice for the team. That's why I enjoyed working for Corey. So in reality, worked with him for two or three months and during the event, and then it didn't take me two months to turn around and know that I was going to the captain. I had to start thinking about it. Mostly in the beginning it was thinking. This year has been a lot of work. The last two or three month have been hectic.

But that's the two year journey that you get to go on. If there is any sadness in the whole thing, I'm sad that it's over because it was so much fun. My heart hurts for the players because they put so much into it and didn't get the result they wanted. Unfortunately what we knew was going to happen was if we got close they were going to put too much pressure on themselves, and one of the pressures was they didn't want to let the captain down. Like I didn't want to let Tom Kite down or Ben Crenshaw or Lanny Wadkins. I think in the end, the enormity of it all - and it's all - we might have been better off tied. Might have played better Sunday tied rather than trying to protect the lead.

In the end, I think Dustin Johnson said it best. Everybody is feeling sorry for themselves and he says, Man, it's just golf. They knocked in a bunch of putts and our lipped out. There's nothing we can do about it. You know, that really did sum it up. Sergio makes an eagle, and the next hole skulls it in the pine straw and them smacks it off the pin and it goes in. Next thing you know he wins two holes from Furyk. Everybody talks about 17 and 18, but we had things like that. They had I think five, maybe even six, eagles on Sunday. Whenever a guy comes out of the box - I saw one of our scorecards. We had a couple birdies in the first five holes and the guy was down because he birdied and the other guy eagled. We just didn't have things go our way.

Then I think at the end the guy that we had at the end to try to just in case something bad happened, they didn't make any putts either. It was an unfortunate situation for all of 'em to be in. Again, they fought hard and played great the first two days. Just had kind of an off day on Sunday.

Q. Is there anything that you learned about yourself throughout this process that maybe surprised yourself as you think about the past year or weekend that stands out now in your mind?

DAVIS LOVE III: I think you know what I learned is Rotella has sunk in gradually me over 25 plus years. This might have been the best job I did of sticking with a game plan all week. Every time I would waffle a little bit, that's why I had Scott Verplank and my Jeff Sluman and my assistants, every time I would go, Hey, you know what, they want me to sit Keegan and Phil and Phil doesn't want to sit or I mean doesn't want to play. He says he's done and stick with the plan. But I could put Keegan with this you know, and they go, No, no, no. Stick with your plan. The plan is working. We're way ahead. Put Dustin and Kuch back in; put Tiger and Strick back in just like you planned on it. They're ready to go.

I learned on the golf course I think one of the things that hurts me is that I don't stick with it. I don't stay committed. I get out of my plan. Tiger and I talked about it Sunday morning about how important it is doing the same thing over and over and over again. I saw it in him. He played really well on the back nine a couple matches because he finally got into just hitting the ball at the flag rather than working on his golf swing. I think I do that. We all do it. But I think that week we had a plan and stuck with it, and I learned I can be a little bit more committed and a little bit tougher. I stood up to a couple things last week that you get criticized in the press because I was being too nice and letting them do what they wanted to do.

I guarantee Tiger Woods didn't want to sit out. There was a lot of guys on our team that said, Do not take Keegan and Phil out. But if you make 'em go play when they don't want to play, they're probably not going to play well. I've been put in that situation, too. You know, they say, Well you could have sat down over lunch and talked to everybody. Well, you don't got that luxury. You have to turn in your tee times while they're still on the golf course.

The plan was set. I road out to 10, popped underneath the ropes, and as soon as Phil saw me he ran over and said, Don't even think about. He knew why I was there. I wasn't there to watch. He was winning. I was there to see if I could talk to Bones and see if they would play. He said no. The domino effect is that you got to sit somebody if you put Keegan and Phil back in. I had sat Kuch and Dustin twice. If there was anything to me that didn't look very smart was sitting Dustin and Kuch. They didn't play an alternate shot match.

Everybody watches sports on TV and thinks they know how they could have done it better. In our team room everybody was solid on it. Pretty much when we were up by 4, nobody was arguing very much. I know they weren't arguing with Mark James either when he was 4 up. Then something bad happens, it gets turned around. That's my job. That's why I signed up for it. I said right from the beginning I know I'm gonna be in the same body as Lanny or Tom or any captain that lost. I thought Tom Kite did a phenomenal job, but he lost because Tiger and Davis and Justin didn't play any good. Then his plan was wrong.

His plan was three major winners would probably get him a whole bunch of points and they didn't. That's kind of what happened to us. My plan was I had Brandt Snedecker and Jim Furyk and guys that putted really, really well. I didn't plan on the Europeans putting like Brandt, and they did it down the stretch and we didn't. And was ultimately the difference.

Q. In the case of moving forward, why this week? Why didn't you take a week off?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I missed the cut at Barclays and I realized how much I had been putting into it mentally. Physically I'm used to doing stuff on and off the golf course, but mentally I had been putting so much into it now that it's over and that I don't have to be worried about making picks or pairings or coming with a plan. You know, the plan didn't just come to us Monday night at Medina. We've been working on this for months and months and months, talking to Paul Azinger as I said in the press there over and over and over again.

So I think the mental grind of it caught of with me. Now that we actually played it, I want to go back to playing. Those guys have been playing in the FedEx Cup and the Ryder Cup. I been sitting there watching, so I'm ready to start playing. Might not be very good this week, but then maybe by Frys - I got a big match come Tuesday as well. I'm playing with Freddy and Bubba and Rickie in Pebble Beach, and then play the Frys, basically a major for me at home. So I need to get ready.

Q. (No microphone.)

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, yeah, we could have picked Nick and Bill and Hunter and Rickie. We could have picked a whole different four. But, again, we had months and months of a plan that we talked to everybody on the team. Everybody was involved. We made some pairings really, really early. My plan was we would never really play well the first two days. We would always get behind. We get behind the first segment. We start trying too hard and get behind after one day and we start trying to play catch up. We rely on singles.

The picks and pairings were made all based on my taking Paul Azinger's plan. Once I got into who was making the team, it shrunk to two man teams rather than four man teams. I didn't have to do a whole lot of personality profiling because I knew the guys. The Sunday lineup, if you go back and look at it, was based on the guys that played together and where we needed them in the lineup.

Tiger and Strick could still practice and eat and prepare together. First four could still prepare together. So it was all a plan and it didn't work, so ultimately it's my responsibility for not putting them in a position on Sunday to win. The picks were based on that. You know, we knew we had Bubba and Webb as a team, but had to make some other teams. Jim Furyk, great alternate shot player. He Loves alternate shot. Great putter in Brandt Snedecker. Everything was kind of calculated.

Now, Jim fell into the plan late with Brandt, but he greed to it. You know, Steve Stricker is the No. 10 player in the world. It's not like we took a chance on a guy. You know, could have picked Fred Couples and maybe he would have played good and maybe he wouldn't have. We didn't really take a chance with FedEx Cup champions. Obviously Brandt played good after we picked him, but he was playing well before. Just went with what we thought was best. It's been said before: Our team agreed on everything we did. Like Phil Mikelson and Tiger Woods, they know that they had to do what ultimately they agreed to do not what I told them to do.

I'm happy with the decision. Now, I love Rickie Fowler and Bill Haas and Hunter Mahan Nick Watney. They are the future of the Ryder Cup. Sure, maybe they would have done better, but I love the team I had. They gave it their all. Most importantly, they represented their country on and off the golf course. Jose Maria said it best: America can be proud of that team. We could take or next 12 and do really well too. Hard to say what the right thing to do is.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.


CBS Sports Official Partner